Earlier this week, the State Transportation Commission approved a plan to toll Interstate 405 from Bellevue to Lynnwood. They plan to repurpose both an existing auxiliary lane, currently in operation as a general purpose lane between Bellevue and 124th Street but being extended to SR522, and the HOV lane from Bellevue to Lynnwood and designating both as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. The HOT lanes would allow free access to carpools with at least three people in the peak periods and will be tolled based on congestion in the adjacent general purpose lanes.
An increase in transit use does not reduce traffic congestion, according to new information provided by the Puget Sound Regional Council. According to the PSRC report, transit agencies across the Puget Sound region logged an 11% boost in ridership between 2010 and 2014, yet delay on the region’s freeways increased a whopping 52% in the same time period.
Senate Bill 5187 would restrict Clark County’s transit agency, C-Tran, from allocating time and money to plan light rail projects that have already been rejected by voters. Only if voters approve the plan at a later date would C-Tran be allowed to devote resources toward light rail.
Senate Bill 5992 is one of eight transportation package reform bills introduced in the state Senate last week. The goal of the reform bill is to reduce the cost of ferries by introducing an open bidding procurement model similar to the proven method that has benefited British Columbian taxpayers.
King County Metro Transit’s vanpool program has finally become operationally self-sufficient. According to the National Transit Database, King County Metro’s vanpool program cost $10,658,554 to operate in 2013. Yet vanpool revenues more than made up for that – users paid about $11.5 million.
State Senators Curtis King (R-Yakima), Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Joe Fain (R-Auburn) and Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) held a press conference today to unveil their plan to pay for more transportation projects.
Congestion relief is not a priority when state officials spend transportation dollars, but that may soon change. House Bill 1939 would re-establish congestion relief as a transportation policy goal, creating an official relationship between spending and relieving traffic congestion.
Prior to 2007, lawmakers had implemented very specific performance measures that tied spending to measurable benchmarks to provide congestion relief. They were:
It may be the best deal state officials choose to pass up this session, buy two ferries and get one free. It all depends on whether state lawmakers want to leave money on the table when it comes to ferry purchases. According to the Washington State Auditor, Washington taxpayers pay some of the highest costs in the nation to build ferries.
Senate Bill 5550, introduced by State Senators Cyrus Habib (D-48th district) and Joe Fain (R-47th district), would establish state-level regulations on the rideshare industry. Currently, local municipalities regulate the taxicab, for-hire, and rideshare industries, while the state has oversight over limousine services.
WPC was invited to testify in front of the House Transportation Committee on January 28th to provide analysis on House Bill 1180. Under HB 1180, Sound Transit officials would gain authority to impose a 0.5% sales tax rate increase, a 0.8% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax increase, and raise property taxes within their taxing district. A video of our testimony can be found below.
The Seattle Times reports today that Governor Inslee has proposed giving $223, or 61 cents a day, in tax rebates to low-income families in recognition of the higher tax burden his administration plans to impose on the people of Washington. The news comes after Governor Inslee said he wants to raise taxes by $1.4 billion in 2015-17, after making the decision to break his promise not to raise taxes. Lawmakers will consider the governor’s tax increase proposal starting January 12th.
This week, Governor Inslee announced he wants to raise taxes to spend more on education and transportation, and to give pay raises to state employees. On Tuesday, the Governor announced his $12 billion transportation spending plan, saying he wants to impose a $4.8 billion cap and trade scheme, take on $3.1 billion in new debt, and impose $2.9 billion in “other fees” on people.
Earlier this week we learned that Governor Inslee proposed his new tax plan without consulting the State Treasurer first.
Today, Governor Inslee announced his new $12 billion transportation spending plan. Under his plan, the state would spend close to $6 billion on the SR-520 Bridge, 507/167 Gateway, the North Spokane freeway and other highway projects. The Governor also wants to spend over $2 billion on subsidized mass transit and multimodal infrastructure.
Bob Pishue is director of WPC’s Coles Center for Transportation. Prior to joining Washington Policy Center in 2013, Bob interned at the Washington Research Council where he produced policy briefs on initiatives and referenda. His last role was the IT and HR Manager for a Bellevue-based retailer. A Washington resident throughout his life, Bob grew up in Everett and graduated from Central Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Bob serves on his church’s annual audit committee and is also an avid golfer. He lives in Kirkland.